After a nice and well-deserved rest in Pisac, we took a 21 hours bus to the capital of Peru, Lima.
Lima is one of the biggest cities in South America overtaking Santiago, Bogota, La Paz and even Quito. It has 43 districts with nearly 9 million inhabitants. One of the best things in Lima is its proximity to the ocean. Many locals told us that the beaches are not good and dirty where we in fact found them to be quite clean and nice. Police and lifeguards are everywhere and a main hub for surfing as well. It was recommended by our hostel in Pisac to stay nearby Miraflores: A cute and vibrant neighborhood with the best restaurants and bars in town plus 10 minutes from the city center and the beach.
The other important of Lima is the food. The city has established a Boulevard of Gastronomy in the Surquillo district, turning a traditional farmers’ market into a pedestrian mall to show the fresh ingredients used in Peruvian cooking. The annual food festival in Lima is held each year in September and it is a very important event for the country. The local people or called “Limeños” are really keen on food and will not lose an opportunity to make you try an national dish. We try the famous Ceviche which is absolutely delicisous. We wrote a recipe about it, right here. The Lomo Saltado is meat with onions and vegetables cooked in a certain manner with a sauce. For meat eater, it is apparently “muy rico”! We also tried the Arroz con Marisco which is well recommended. We honestly had a blast trying all the good food in Lima. It has been more a culinar stay than anything else! 😉 We however took some time to also visit the city and get to know it a little better.
We took one of the free walking tours offered by fwtperu.com. These are offered in English and have free Pisco sour tasting at the end. The Pisco is also a very traditional dish that can be found in different flavor.
We met our tour guide near park Kennedy then took the metro to the city center. Must say that the transportation was very fast and safe. The roads for the bus are blocked to the regular public which makes it better during rush hour as the buses are not blocked by the usual endless traffic jams.
As we got to the Plaza de Armas, we encountered heavy policemen blocking the way to the main fountain and the palace where the president lives. Come to learn that the German counsellor Angela Merkel (or Angie 😉 )was in town and inside the palace. So we couldn’t really go near it nevertheless we got a little history of it.
The city was founded back in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro and it quickly became the richest and most important city in America. However, Lima is in what’s called a hot pot, earthquakes here are often and sometimes disastrous. In 1746 an earthquake destroyed pretty much the entire city but the city recuperated quickly and most of the buildings and structures still stand up to now. Lima was also the first city to start building a railway system that would connect to other countries in the continent.
Few decades later, the Peruvians got into a war with Chile which they lost and Chileans occupied the capital for nearly three years. After the Peruvians were able to get the Chileans out and recuperate their capital. During the 1980’s, revolutionary armed forces displaced many farmers and small town people to migrate to the capital as they were gaining control of the country. The city went into a decay with high crime and killings. This went on until 1996 when the armed forces took over the presidential palace in Lima with some hostages for almost four months. A successful rescued mission was performed by the military who killed all of the rebels and only one hostage in crossed fire.
Luckily today, Lima has rebuilt quickly and has a robust economy. It enjoys safer public areas to bring back the thriving culture and culinary scene.
What to see in Lima?
La catedral de Lima was built back in the 1500’s but have been destroyed by many earthquakes. The cathedral is now standing with no issues and in its visited for its catacombs where the remains of Francisco Pizarro are there. Entrance is only 10 soles and worth the price.
The Monastery de San Francisco is also famous for its catacombs. It’s said to have at least 70,000 burials here and have a library with books dating back to the Spanish conquest time. The entrance is only 7 soles.
The plaza de Armas is the main plaza with the presidential palace in front and it’s said to have the change of the guards which happen everyday at noon and they never repeat one ceremony twice. Unfortunately because of the German counsellor, this didn’t happen but it’s another reason to come back to Lima.
Playa Costa Verde by Miraflores is more of a surfing beach than for swimming. The currents are super strong and can take you in very quickly. We saw a rescued session of a girl in distress be saved by the lifeguard and police and ambulance even showed up. She was very shaken about it.
Since I was only given a 30 days visa, we had to be out of the country before the end of the week which only gave us time for one more stop in Peru :-(..
We chose to go to Mancora! A small beach town with beautiful beaches, great restaurants and one of the main spots for Peruvians to get away. Another 18 hours bus ahead of us and we arrived just in time to enjoy a beautiful afternoon in Mancora. We spent 2 full days there. We found a beautiful and cheap hostel in town which offered the best views of Mancora – hostal Kontiki, owned by a swiss german Guy! He was very friendly and kind to us. We talked about his life in Mancora and he really like the relaxing atmosphere as well as the lifestyle with his family. However he misses many things from Switzerland as well.
Overall, we really enjoyed our short stay in Mancora that is by far the most relaxing place after the vibrant and fast paced Lima.
We basically went surfing and sun bathing the whole time before heading to Ecuador for another 12 hours bus.. Whish us luck!
See you soon y besos a todos 🙂
Where to stay in Lima: Hostel Kokopelli, address: Calle Berlin 259, Lima 18. double room, 105 soles, double room, no AC. The hotel is in Milaflores, has a kitchen, bar and a tour agency.
How to get to the center from the bus station: Be very careful with the taxis and make sure that they are radio taxis, with registered number. The price from Cruz del Sur bus station to the city center is about 15 soles. (around 6 $).
The metropolitan: It is a bus service working as a metro. It is safe and fast during the day. Avoid taking it at night. The cost for the card is 5 soles to be purchased in a station.